By Julia Peoples
During the regular meeting of the MS Critterz Board of Directors Monday, president Gail Tidwell Brown announced her resignation as president.
The announcement follows Facebook posts by one of the shelter’s former employees, Kit Smith, which features screenshots of racist comments made by Brown on Facebook a few years ago.
“I want to truly apologize to the staff, who work so hard, the board of directors, the city and county officials, and the community for the disruption that has been caused by old Facebook posts I have made,” Brown said Monday before announcing her resignation.
The board did make it clear, however, that Brown would still remain on the board as an active member even though she will no longer serve as president.
Following the announcement, Aynslee Smith was voted as the shelter’s new president of the board of directors.
At the end of the meeting, a 15-minute period was allotted for public comment. The open discussion showed that tensions were high on many topics. Many people were outraged by Brown’s comments. One woman attending the meeting said she would not donate to the shelter while Brown was involved with the organization. Other citizens and shelter volunteers spoke out to defend the shelter and urged people to focus on the animals.
The board also announced Monday that during the month of August the shelter successfully completed 78 adoptions and 12 transports of 85 animals. There are currently 296 animals in shelter care and 83 animals in foster care.
Several people raised concerns about euthanasia and overcrowding of the animals, citing the statement that 31 animals were euthanized in the month of August and that the shelter currently has 296 animals. In response, the board members reiterated that as a no-kill shelter, they only euthanize for medical or severe behavioral purposes and that many of the animals are kittens and puppies.
Last year, MS Critterz was the only organization to submit a complete application to manage the shelter and animal control services for the Oxford-Lafayette area after the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society announced it would no longer be managing the shelter. Their contract with Oxford and Lafayette County is up for renewal at the end of September.
One man attending the meeting alleged that the Oxford Board of Aldermen were aware of Brown’s racist comments before they approved the contract last year.
Alderman Janice Antonow, who sits on the MS Critterz board as a liaison, denied having any knowledge of the posts last year when the city approved the contract with MS Critterz.